More importantly, perhaps, it’s the navigation software that’s hobbled – and that means the XL doesn’t have the new IQ Routes planning capabilities of the x30 range. It has to estimate journey times and plan the fastest routes based on speed limits rather than recorded average speeds. It lacks other key features too. There’s no lane assistance, for example, no speech recognition and no text-to-speech engine. Dig deeper and you find that there’s no shortcut screen (the x30 and x20 range allowed you to set up customised shortcuts), and that it lacks the ambient light and noise sensors that allow its bigger brothers and sisters to automatically adjust screen brightness and speaker volume.
I also found that the GPS fix and general reception wasn’t quite as quite strong with the XL as it was with the TomTom Go 930 Traffic. The latter was able to achieve a fix while I was sitting at my kitchen table with only a sliver of sky on view – the TomTom XL had to be taken outside. But I never had a problem with performance while the device was in the car. It locked on quickly and without fuss every time I switched it on and routes were calculated and recalculated swiftly too.
But the key question here is: does any of this affect the XL’s ability to get you from A to B in an efficient and effective manner? The answer is no. It may not have the bells and whistles of the x30 range, or even the x20 range before it, but in most other respects it’s a highly proficient sat-nav.
Initial prices look a little dear, even though they’re a lot lower than the x30 range at around £180 for the basic UK version, but don’t let that fool you. As soon as these start to appear on the market in significant numbers, the prices will drop and then they’ll be seriously good value. Personally, I’d still rather have a 730 or 930, but this is a damned good compromise. I’d also still advise opting for a 720 if you can lay hands on one, as they’re available at around the same price, but once they run out this is the next best thing.
Score in detail